Undergraduate Catalog 2005- 2006

Academic Grievance Policy and Procedures for Undergraduate Students

Preamble

It is an objective of the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education to encourage the prompt and informal resolution of grievances of undergraduate students as they arise, and to provide orderly procedures for the satisfactory adjustment of complaints.

This set of procedures is designed to establish a well-defined, flexible structure intended to include in its purview the issues unique to undergraduate education as well as academic areas common to all faculty-student or administrator-student relationships.

The following grievance procedures provide a sequence of events for the orderly and expeditious resolution of disputes. While recognizing and affirming the established principle that academic determinations are to be reached solely by academic professionals, it is the University's intention to secure, to the maximum extent feasible, equitable treatment of every party to a dispute. To that end, those who oversee the grievance process are charged to pay heed, not only to issues of procedural integrity, but also to considerations of substantive fairness.

Definitions of Grievance

1. Jurisdiction. A grievance shall include, but is not restricted to, a complaint by an undergraduate student: (1) that there has been to him or her a violation, misinterpretation, or inequitable application of any of the regulations of the University, faculty, or department; or (2) that he or she has been treated unfairly or inequitably by reason of any act or condition that is contrary to established policy or practice governing or affecting undergraduate students.

2. Time Limit. A grievance must be filed within one calendar year from the date of the alleged offense. The cognizant department chair, dean, or the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education may extend this time limit upon demonstration of good cause.

Grievance Proceedings - Departmental Level

Informal Discussion - Departmental Level

Virtually all disputes originate in the department or comparable administrative unit and should, if feasible, be resolved informally between the disputants. The parties should meet in order to resolve the dispute amicably.

It may be useful for the student to first seek the assistance of his or her department chair, department director of undergraduate studies, or dean of the school (where appropriate) to act as a mediator to aid in evenhandedly resolving the dispute.

Formal Grievance Proceedings - Departmental Level

Step 1: The student who feels that the grievance is severe (or has been unable to resolve the matter informally) should submit in writing a request for a hearing (including any evidentiary or supporting materials) to the cognizant department chair. (If and when the department chair is a party against whom the grievance is brought, either as a teaching faculty member or as chair, or where the chair believes it will best serve the interests of the parties, direct petition to the school/college level may be pursued.)

Step 2: The cognizant department chair shall give the Department Grievance Committee (provided for in the departmental rules and regulations) and each principal a copy of the written grievance (including any evidentiary or supporting materials) and a copy of the Academic Grievance Policy and Procedures for Undergraduate Students.

Step 3: The Departmental Grievance Committee shall convene hearing(s) as necessary to allow both principals the opportunity to present their positions and shall allow each principal the right to question the presentation(s), written and verbal, of those who contribute information to the Committee.

The hearing shall convene within 20 days* of receipt of the written grievance. The cognizant department will notify principals at least 72 hours prior to the hearing.

Each principal shall have the right to be present and to have one advisor present at all hearings. In no case shall the advisor be an attorney, unless he or she is a member of the faculty not acting in his/her capacity as a member of the bar. Such hearing(s) shall be conducted in confidence [see Appendix C].

Step 4: The Departmental Grievance Committee shall submit its letter of recommendation (including findings and reasons for the recommendations) to the cognizant department chair within 10 academic days* of the final meeting of the Committee.

Step 5: The cognizant department chair shall consider the Committee's findings and recommendations and render a final decision. The final decision (Statement of Decision) and the student's right to appeal the department chair's decision (including time limit) shall be submitted in writing from the department chair to the principals (via certified, return receipt mail), the cognizant dean, and the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education within 10 academic days* from receiving the Department Grievance Committee's written recommendations.

Files shall be maintained in the office of the cognizant dean and the Office of the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education.

Grievance Proceedings - School/College Appeal

Step 1: If either principal wishes to appeal the departmental ruling, a written statement of the appeal (including any additional evidentiary or supporting materials) shall be filed within 10 academic days* of receipt of the department chair's Statement of Decision. The appeal shall be filed with the cognizant dean. (If and when the dean is a party against whom the grievance is brought, either as a teaching faculty member or as dean, or where the dean believes it will best serve the interests of the parties, direct petition to the Vice Provostal level may be pursued.)

Step 2: Upon review of relevant materials [including all materials and statements presented during prior hearings, and materials and statements subsequently presented], if the cognizant dean does not find that the statement of grievance provides reasonable grounds to grieve or raises doubt of prior review, the dean may issue a formal decision regarding the appeal. In such a case, the dean shall submit a Statement of Decision to the principals (via certified, return receipt mail), the department chair, and the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education within 20 academic days* of receipt of the appeal.

Or, if the dean deems it necessary to further consider the circumstances of the appeal, he/she shall convene a Decanal Grievance Committee within 20 academic days* of receipt of the appeal. The Decanal Grievance Committee shall include two faculty members and two undergraduate students, but shall not include representatives from the department involved in the grievance [see Appendix A].

Step 3: The cognizant dean shall give the Decanal Grievance Committee and each principal a copy of the Academic Grievance policy, written grievance, appeal, supplemental materials and statements, and all documentation and recommendations from the departmental proceedings. The office of the dean shall notify principals at least 72 hours prior to the hearing.

Step 4: The Decanal Grievance Committee shall convene hearing(s) necessary to allow both principals the opportunity to present their positions and shall allow each principal the right to question the presentation(s), written or verbal, of those who contribute information to the Committee.

Each principal shall have the right to be present and to have one advisor present at all hearings. In no case shall the advisor be an attorney, unless he or she is a member of the faculty not acting in his/her capacity as member of the bar. Such hearing(s) shall be conducted in confidence [see Appendix C].

Step 5: The Decanal Grievance Committee shall submit its letter of recommendations (including findings and reasons for the recommendations) to the cognizant academic dean within 10 academic days* of the final meeting of the Committee.

Step 6: The cognizant dean shall consider the Committee's findings and recommendations and render a final decision. The final decision (Statement of Decision) and student's right to appeal the dean's decision (including time limit) shall be submitted in writing from the dean to the principals (via certified, return receipt mail), the department chair, and the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education within 10 academic days* from receiving the Decanal Grievance Committee's written recommendations.

Files shall be maintained in the office of the cognizant dean and the Office of the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education.

Grievance Proceedings - Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education Appeal

On rare occasions, when all established procedures within a college/school have been exhausted, it may be appropriate for the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education to consider a final University appeal.

Step 1: If either principal wishes to appeal the decision(s) of the dean, the written statement of appeal (including any additional evidentiary or supporting materials) shall be filed within 10 academic days* of receipt of the Statement of Decision. The appeal shall be filed with the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education .

Step 2: Upon review of relevant materials [including all materials and statements presented during prior hearings, and materials and statements subsequently presented], if the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education does not find the statement of grievance provides reasonable grounds to grieve or raises doubt of prior appropriate review, the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education may issue a formal decision regarding the appeal. In such a case, the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education will submit a Statement of Decision to the principals (via certified, return receipt mail), the department chair, and cognizant dean within 20 academic days* of receipt of the appeal. Or, if the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education deems it necessary to further consider the circumstances of the appeal, he/she shall convene a Vice Provostal Grievance Committee within 20 academic days* of receipt of the appeal [see Appendix B].

Step 3: The Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education shall give the Vice Provostal Grievance Committee and each principal a copy of the Academic Grievance policy, written grievance, appeal, supplemental materials and statements, and all documentation and recommendations from the departmental and decanal proceedings. The Office of the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education will notify principals at least 72 hours prior to the hearing.

Step 4: The Vice Provostal Grievance Committee shall convene hearing(s) as necessary to allow both principals the opportunity to present their positions and shall allow each principal the right to question the presentation(s), written or verbal, of those who contribute information to the Committee.

Each principal shall have the right to be present and to have one advisor present at all hearings. In no case shall the advisor be an attorney, unless he or she is a member of the faculty not acting in his/her capacity as member of the bar. Such hearing(s) shall be conducted in confidence [see Appendix C].

Step 5: The Vice Provostal Grievance Committee shall submit its letter of recommendations (including findings and reasons for recommendations) to the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education within 10 academic days* after the final meeting of the Committee.

Step 6: The Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education shall consider the Committee's findings and recommendations and render a final decision. The final decision (Statement of Decision) shall be submitted in writing from the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education to the principals (via certified, return receipt mail), the department chair, and the cognizant academic dean within 10 academic days* from receiving the Vice Provostal Grievance Committee's written recommendations.

The decision of the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education is final. Files shall be maintained in the office of the cognizant dean and the Office of the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education.

*Academic days are defined as weekdays when classes are in session, not including summer sessions.

Appendix A

Decanal Grievance Committee Membership

The cognizant academic dean or the chair of the school / college shall assemble a Grievance Committee of four members from a pool of members termed the Grievance Pool. The faculty Grievance Pool shall include two representatives, as appropriate, from each department: one faculty member and one undergraduate student. The departmental representatives in the Grievance Pool shall be selected by the respective faculty and student constituencies in an appropriate democratic fashion, and in no case shall these representatives be appointed by the departmental or decanal administration.

The members of the Grievance Pool and Grievance Committee shall be selected so that no member is involved in a disproportionate number of grievances. Each principal to the dispute shall have the option of requesting, without stipulating a reason, the replacement of one member of the Committee hearing the grievance. If any principal finds the replacement members inappropriate, the party shall transmit, within five academic days [defined as weekdays when classes are in session] of the naming of the Committee, a written statement of the grounds of this "challenge for cause" to the cognizant academic dean or the chair of the Grievance Pool, who shall rule on its merits and either retain or replace the Committee members so challenged. Each Committee member selected shall have the option of disqualifying him or herself from the Committee by stipulating reasons why he/she feels unable to deal without bias on the grievance.

Panel Development

The Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education shall have the obligation to encourage departments to nominate faculty and student representatives for the departmental and decanal pools and to encourage departments to facilitate development of faculty and student representatives in order to ensure a suitable pool of personnel for departmental, decanal, and Vice Provostal grievance hearings.

Appendix B

Vice Provostal Grievance Committee Membership

The Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education shall select the Vice Provostal Grievance Committee's four members from the pool of members called the Undergraduate Grievance Pool. The departmental representatives in the Grievance Pool shall be selected by the respective faculty and student constituencies in an appropriate democratic fashion, and in no case shall these representatives be appointed by the departmental or decanal administration.

The members of the Undergraduate Grievance Pool and Vice Provostal Grievance Committee shall be selected so that no member is involved in a disproportionate number of grievances. Each principal to the dispute shall have the option of requesting, without stipulating a reason, the replacement of one member of the Committee hearing the grievance. If any principal finds the replacement members inappropriate, the party shall transmit, within five academic days [defined as weekdays when classes are in session] of the naming of the Committee, a written statement of the grounds of this "challenge for cause" to the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education or to the chair of the Undergraduate Grievance Pool, who shall rule on its merits and either retain or replace the Committee members so challenged. Each Committee member selected shall have the option of disqualifying him or herself from the Committee by stipulating reasons why he/she feels unable to deal without bias on the grievance.

Panel Development

The Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education shall have the obligation to encourage departments to nominate faculty and student representatives for the departmental and decanal pools and to encourage departments to facilitate development of faculty and student representatives in order to ensure a suitable pool of personnel for departmental, decanal, and Vice Provostal grievance hearings.

Appendix C

Confidentiality of Proceedings

Once the department chair, dean, or the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education initiates a grievance hearing, principals and Committee members shall have the obligation to maintain the confidentiality of the proceedings and of all materials or testimony presented in hearing proceedings, until a decision is formally transmitted to the principals involved in the grievance.

If a breach of confidentiality by either principal (as defined above) is formally brought to the attention of the Grievance Committee, upon a majority vote of the Committee, it may choose to consider this breach a case of possible misconduct. If a Committee member is charged with a possible misconduct, such charge will be heard at the next highest level Grievance Committee. Such consideration shall take precedence over the pending grievance, and a misconduct hearing shall be conducted, and findings shall be transmitted, in writing, to the principals and Committee members, and shall be placed in a supplemental file of the grievance proceedings. Such findings may then be considered in the subsequent review of the grievance.